When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Thinking of becoming a landlord

Anyone in Northern Ireland who receives payment to allow someone to live in a property owned by them is a landlord. Renting out property is a business and landlords have to follow certain laws and processes. If you are thinking about becoming a landlord, it's important that you become familiar with your legal obligations; from understanding the required property standards to knowing how the Data Protection Act affects your business.

If you're receiving rent in return for accommodation you are a landlord. You may have lodgers living with you in your home, you may just be renting out a property until the housing market improves, but either way there are certain steps which you are legally required to take.

There are a number of things you must consider before deciding to become a landlord. There can be a lot of initial expenditure and you will need to be able to dedicate a certain amount of time to your new business.

If you don't have much time to dedicate to managing your rental properties and the needs of your tenants, you may wish to hire an agent to do this for you. Even if you hire an agent, your tenant must still have access to your name, address and telephone number.

As the property owner, you should make sure that you keep accurate records for all your rented properties. This should include information on your property's amenities as well as any safety certificates associated with the property. As a landlord, you are running a business and should give the same level of importance to record keeping as you would in any other business venture. You must also comply with the Data Protection Act and may have to notify the Information Commissioner's Office of your business.

When you communicate with your tenants you need to ensure that you do so in an appropriate and timely manner. If your tenants have literacy issues or do not speak English, you will need to consider how you can effectively communicate with them.

Even if you've hired an agent to manage your rental properties, you must make yourself aware of your legal obligations to your tenants. If a legal dispute arises you will need to show that you conducted yourself according to your legal obligations. If you're paying an agent to do this for you, make sure they have a sound knowledge of the legislation that governs the private rented sector in Northern Ireland.